Three halal slaughtermen and their bosses have appeared in court charged with the “systematic” abuse of animals killed in accordance with Islamic law.
Kabeer Hussein, Kazam Hussein, Artur Lewandowski, Robert Woodward and William Woodward sat alongside each other yesterday at Northallerton Magistrates’ Court in North Yorkshire.
The case was based on “significant and systemic” breaches of animal welfare rules, alleged Howard Shaw for the prosecution, the Northern Echo reports.
Animal activists looked on from the public gallery in horror as the extensive list of cruelty charges were read out. The men worked at the Bowood Yorkshire Lamb slaughterhouse, which was secretly filmed by the animal rights group Animal Aid last year.
In the footage, workers are seen hacking and sawing at animals’ throats, kicking them in the face and jumping on their necks, and even laughing hysterically as a sheep bled to death with spectacles drawn around it’s eyes.
The Islamic form of slaughtering animals involves killing through a cut to neck when the animal is still alive. An Islamic prayer is then read as the blood is drained from the body.
In the UK animals are legally required to be stunned before their neck is cut, but some Muslim argue this is against their religion.
Polish worker Lewandowski, 30, of Ribble Drive, Darlington, was charged with two counts of causing suffering to four sheep at Bowood Farms abattoir, Busby Stoop, near Thirsk, in December 2014, by lifting them by their fleeces during the slaughter process, when he should reasonably have known he would be causing pain to the animal.
Kabeer Hussain, 43, of Brantwood Road, Bradford, was charged with two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to 24 sheep by failing to give them sufficient time to lose consciousness after they had been killed at the slaughterhouse in December 2014.
Kazam Hussein, 53, of Haworth Road, Bradford, was charged with six counts of causing suffering to 29 sheep, including not giving sheep enough time to lose consciousness, striking them during slaughter, and not cutting their throats with a single cut.
Former owners of Bowood, father Robert Woodward, 68, and son William Woodward, 30, both of Catesby, Daventry, Northamptonshire, are each charged with two counts of failing to act at Bowood Farms in Thirsk, in December 2014, to prevent the acts by several employees that caused animals to suffer.
Each spoke only to give their names and addresses at the hearing, which was told if the case goes before a jury, the trial would be expected to last four days.
The case was adjourned until May 27, when legal issues surrounding the case will be discussed.